Several weekends ago, Brian Head Resort in Southern Utah put on its second annual ULLR Fest. The festival is the resort’s own take on the celebration and sacrifice to the Old Norse god Ullr—widely considered to be the patron saint of skiers worldwide.
Many recreational, professional and ski patrol skiers wear an Ullr medallion or ski medal depicting the Scandinavian god holding a bow and arrow as a talisman—bringing snow to the winter sports community.
At Brian Head, the resort has modeled its day-long celebration—held this year on December 10—on that of Breckenridge, Colorado but with Brian Head’s own flair for Utah’s Greatest Snow on Earth.
Each December, the party begins at 10 a.m. on the Giant Steps Patio. Fire pits blaze with heat, music pumps from the deck and everyone prepares for an evening of celebration—and ultimately the arrival of snow near Cedar Breaks.
Near dusk, drummers parade through Last Chair Saloon to announce the official beginning of the snow god ceremony and attendees don Viking hats in anticipation.
A drum circle forms on the deck featuring local players while a fire dancer is accompanied by rhythmic drums and music. A speech to the snow gods—presented by the crowd at large with glasses raised—welcomes Ullr to Brian Head. From the top of the hill, Ullr skies down the mountain, carrying a fiery torch. At the base, Ullr ignites a ski sacrifice for a snowy winter to come.
Guests are then invited back into Last Chance Saloon for a hot Kansas City-style barbecue dinner with smoky wings and brisket, fried catfish and coleslaw and cornbread. And of course, don’t forget the beer!
Given my attendance at Ullr Fest and the subsequent monster powder dump across Utah, I raise my glass (and skies) to Brian Head Resort and Ullr for the powdery season to come.